Earlier this week, the 4A’s sent an email to members about annual dues and what to expect from the trade body in 2020, including three key focus areas for the industry.
The note states that the 4A’s will address "critical challenges" and help add value when it comes to agency compensation, business-building creativity and the value of agency partnerships.
"Compensation always tends to come up because there’s no one way of handling it," said Marla Kaplowitz, CEO of the 4A’s, pointing to the fact that media agencies price differently than creative and more agencies are doing away with timesheets, among many other factors.
On the creativity bit, she told Campaign US that the industry needs to celebrate creativity more in all facets - from media and tech to PR and advertising.
The third core area - the value of agency partnerships - comes down to agencies often not getting enough credit for their work, said Kaplowitz.
"We know agencies can’t always pat themselves on the back, but this is about business, and agencies partner with marketers to help drive their businesses and their growth and impact culture," she said.
As part of its 2020 mission, the 4A’s is teaming up with the ANA to create relationship guidelines and best practices for agency-client relationships. Each trade group has conducted their own research on the topic, which will be brought together and revealed this spring.
"This is about how these partnerships work and how to make sure they’re successful," added Kaplowitz.
In addition to its focus areas, the 4A’s told members about dues for the year in its email. For two of the last three years, the association has not raised its dues, but this year, the price is going up 1.6 percent, slightly below the cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 1.9 percent.
Kaplowitz said the IAB raises its dues 3 percent each year, while the ANA does low increases annually, without pause. Upon looking at the industry landscape, the 4A’s said it didn’t feel comfortable increasing dues higher than COLA.
"We are in a situation where everyone is reevaluating cost and we have to constantly justify our value," explained Kaplowitz. "It ultimately comes down to what our attrition is and how we’re continuing to reinforce our value. We are absolutely not perfect, and our services are so broad that our core offering may be lost sometimes."
She added: "We’re here to help the full ecosystem and industry; not just agencies. We don’t sit back and rest on our laurels. We’re constantly looking at how the 4A’s can continue to be relevant and increase our value to members."
Kaplowitz said the association has not been consistent enough in getting its messaging out, but this year, it will "be stronger and more provocative" in sharing all key information with members.
As for pricing, membership fees are currently based on a tiering model around agencies’ annual gross income.
In the next year or two, however, this could change because the 4A’s has been examining different pricing models for its agencies, Kaplowitz said.
She also mentioned that the association plans on releasing 14 benchmarking reports in 2020, up from its normal three or four each year, based on feedback from its agencies. This data, some of which will only be available to members, will include topics such as family and parental leave policies, understanding search consultants, CCPA and more.